International Awards Blog

Thanks to the Stevie Awards, Expansion in Asia-Pacific is No Longer A Dream for Australian Architecture Practice

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Fri, Jan 29, 2016 @ 04:59 PM

Rebekah Hurworth, Director of Your Architect in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, won a Gold Stevie Award for Female Entrepreneur of the Year in Asia, Australia or New Zealand in the Individual categories of the 2015 Stevie Awards for Women in Business.

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The 2016 Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards is currently accepting entries.

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In Australia, less than 1% of architecture practices are led by female directors. Rebekah Hurworth, Director of Your Architect, an architecture practice specializing in new homes, renovations, and extensions, is making ripples across this male-skewed industry.

1601YourArchitect-1.jpgAfter seven years working at four practices, Rebekah identified that whilst the practices were proficient in delivering on professional expertise, there was a distinct gap in the methodologies used, hindering business growth potential. She knew she could provide an additional level of business services through implementing systems and ideas new to the industry that would generate more leads, increase marketing reach, and increase revenue. In 2008, she established Your Architect.

Breaking the Mold

In addition to the Gold Stevie Award, Rebekah also won the Silver Stevie for Female Entrepreneur of the Year in a Business Services with 10 or Less Employees. We asked Rebekah what winning these awards had meant to her and the Your Architect team.

“Most businesses in our industry do things the same way,” she told us. “In fact, most architecture businesses look virtually the same. We’ve broken away from this mold and do things very differently, but as a business owner you always have a level of trepidation about change. Winning a Gold Stevie Award provided reassurance to me as a business owner—and gave our whole team a lot of confidence—that the changes we’ve made and the new ideas we’ve pioneered are worthwhile.”

Continued Rebekah: “Having this peer recognition has given us the courage to share our ideas and approach with our local community. We’ve started a proactive PR campaign for 2016 and updated and rebranded our website in order to share these concepts and explain why we do what we do—all driven by my team and their desire to celebrate our differences with their new-found confidence.”

B2B and B2C Marketing

Rebekah recognized the power of B2B and B2C marketing and the dividends networking would yield. She created a series of workshops, which she delivers to real estate agents, educating them on architecture and how to use this knowledge to educate their buyers, which in turn reaps rewards through word of mouth referrals to her business. She has climbed the ladder of Business Networking International to become a Director, and her insight and knowledge in lead generation through networking has led to various keynote speaking engagements. As a result, 80% of her business is generated through networking.

In comparison to architects’ general practice of charging initial consult fees, Rebekah introduced a free 30-60 minute consult. Additionally, clients are guaranteed a maximum three-week time frame for turnaround, and each client project is managed systematically with a transparent fee structure for each stage of the project, a practice uncommon in the industry.

Wholesale Drafting

As a result of her tactical foresight, Rebekah has identified a gap in the market and created a secondary revenue stream to her business called Wholesale Drafting, a sub-contracting service to others within the business delivering a faster turnaround on design drawings for a greater return on investment.

Additionally, Rebekah implemented an hour-long training session on Friday mornings for her architects, which helps ensure the business is abreast of industry changes. This greatly exceeds the minimum professional requirements of 20 hours per year. Introducing this as mandatory has ensured the retention of quality staff who reap the rewards of professional development.

Rebekah also engaged in her own development through training courses at the National College of Business (NCB) and Business Blueprint, and was awarded Business of the Year by NCB in December 2014.

Big Plans for 2016
“In 2016, Your Architect is starting an educational series under the banner of The Family Home Experts, providing a three-hour workshop and two-day master class,” Rebekah told us. “This program will be focused on teaching our potential clients how to buy the right house or property to start with, and how to weigh up these important decisions.   A house is the biggest financial investment most people will make in their life, and we want to share our knowledge to help people do this right, regardless of whether or not they use our services to renovate or build.”

“Most architects only get involved once the house or land has been purchased,” explained Rebekah. “Often this is too late, and we regularly see people buying the wrong property. These seminars will also be open to university students, as this material is not taught at architecture school.”

No Longer A Dream
We asked Rebekah what she thought about the Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards and how they might help in broadening awareness of a company such as hers in the region.

Her response: “I had intended one day to take Your Architect and The Family Home Experts national throughout Australia, and then eventually into Asia. With the response we have had from winning our Stevie Award, as well as the interest we’ve had in our behind-the-scenes arm, Wholesale Drafting, this is no longer a dream. It is now written into our business plan.”

Explained Rebekah: “I’ve now re-written our business plan to start to go national by the end of this year, and start to go international into Asia within two years. I already have my first meeting booked to discuss this, and will be visiting Singapore and the Philippines in April! We’ve also had venture capital interest which may help in how we go about broaching the international market.”

Concluded Rebekah: “The Stevie Awards have certainly given us the recognition to be able to approach bigger companies with confidence and back up the success of what we do.”

Rebekah has already invested heavily in training a Philippines-based faction of her business to complement her three Brisbane-based architects, flying out to meet them and sharing her vision and her long-term goals for her business. Taking this risk proved to be a success: the Philippines business has expanded to two administrators and four draughtsmen, and is growing.

Making Architecture Accessible
Rebekah is full of enthusiasm for the future. “We’re pioneering new ways to do architecture, to make it both cost effective and accessible to a wider range of people,” she told us. “Traditionally, most architects work in the high-end area with blank cheque budgets; however, we can bring a huge amount of value to real, everyday people. This has long been the focus of our practice, and we deliberately select team members without ego who are focused on great outcomes for our clients and maximizing value for money, no matter the size of the project.”

In conclusion, Rebekah explained: “Our high-end clients are still just as interested in getting value-for-money as our budget clients. It’s amazing how excited and motivated this makes our whole team. For me, personally, I see the results we get, how fulfilled my team is, and how happy our clients are, and this drives me to build what we do bigger and take it to a wider market. I’m inspired by the future and everyday work towards a point where we can take our services beyond Brisbane to Australia and Asia.”

About Rebekah Hurworth:

Often described as “not your usual architect” and a self-confessed “accidental over-achiever,” Rebekah Hurworth is Director of Your Architect, an architecture practice specializing in new homes, renovations, and extensions. A Level One Member of the Australian Institute of Architects and RAIA, she has recently completed a twelve-month training course with the National College of Business and is currently completing her ‘Business Blueprint’ course under the tutelage of Dale Beaumont. A Director of her local faction of the leading networking group, Business Networking International, she has twice been elected President, and has recently been accepted on the International Board of Advisors as one of 100 people who sit on this board worldwide.

Rebekah has a Bachelor of Architecture degree and a Bachelor of Built Environment (Architectural Studies) degree from Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane.

About Your Architect:

Your Architect is a Brisbane-based housing specialist founded in 2008 by director Rebekah Hurworth. Currently, Rebekah leads a team of three architects in her Brisbane team supported by a team based in the Philippines. Your Architect has strong networking connections and is known for its work with charities such as Salvation Army, Cardmaking For A Cause, Meals on Wheels, and Glam It Up For Charity. For more information, go to: www.yourarchitect.com.au/

Topics: women awards, management awards, Asia-Pacific, Women in Business, expansion